Much like other Anglo Americans of his day, not long after he moved to Mexico in 1828 he married a woman from Chihuahua and started a family there. Those types of connections helped him to understand the region and its people. In the early 1840s he relocated his family to Peralta, less that twenty miles south of Albuquerque. He was present during the closed-door negotiations between Governor Armijo, Diego de Archuleta, and James Magoffin in the fall of 1846. In 1861 President Abraham Lincoln appointed Connelly as Governor of the New Mexico Territory. Because of his knowledge of the area, when Confederate soldiers threatened New Mexico in 1861 and 1862 he explained the situation to nuevomexicanos in terms they could relate to–the Confederate invasion was essentially a Texan invasion. Such reasoning persuaded many nuevomexicanos to join the Union cause against the Confederacy.
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